I wanted to write this Yoto player review because it’s my #1 favorite kid gadget OF ALL TIME, and I don’t think most Americans know about it! This is NOT a sponsored post, I’m just writing this review because I love ours with every cell of my being.
Last fall, I was irritated because we had just gone through another CD player for our kids. I was also curious if there was basically a cd player for toddlers out there on the market. CD players don’t last anymore! This was the second CD player that had gone kaput after just a few months. And buying CDs just isn’t as fun as it used to be, and kids scratch them.
I knew I wasn’t exposing my kids to enough music, and my older daughter loves listening to stories of any kind. So I wondered if there was a screen-free alternative to buying CDs and using CD players. It’s a losing battle, but we do our best to limit screen time.
Further, my little boy was starting to really fight bedtime, so I needed a way to make bedtime feel more special, and reduce his separation anxiety. I learned that Yoto offers loads of some sweet bedtime stories, make your own cards, sound effects, white noise and more.
Then, I stumbled upon the Yoto box and watched their adorable little video, which explains how the Yoto is used. I was immediately completely enamored with it, and hinted to Grandma and our kids’ aunt that I thought it would be a huge hit at Christmas. I’ve now also reviewed the Yoto Mini, which I may love even more than the original Yoto player!
It’s kinda pricey, but our kids share it, and they both enjoy it every single day, without fail. I’m actually thinking of purchasing a second one at our next birthday so they can both enjoy it at bedtimes! (Update: We now own three Yoto players – one for each kid!) It’s great for both older children and younger children, too.
Want more product recommendations for little kids? Here are more of our favorite educational toys and games!
Want more product recommendations for little kids? Here are more of our favorite educational toys and games!
What is a Yoto box?
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A Yoto is a screen-free and totally kid-friendly way to play music, stories, and lessons. It’s a little square box with two basic orange knobs and a slot for a card at the top. Music, stories and sounds are played (mostly) from little physical cards you purchase separately. Tiny kids can operate this box without help from parents or siblings.
Family members can also record on blank cards, making it a great choice for kids who are struggling with separation anxiety at night time. The front lights up with a little basic picture, depending on what’s playing.
It uses Wifi occasionally to download the contents of the card for the first time, but Wifi isn’t always necessary after each card is used the first time.
In addition to whatever cards the child owns, they can also listen to the Yoto radio by simply clicking the right knob, or click again to hear an ADORABLE daily podcast. These change each day just like regular radio stations or podcast.
What age is the Yoto player for?
My three year old can work this Yoto box all by himself, but he would have been perfectly capable at age 2! If you need something like a cd player for toddlers, this would be a great replacement.
My 8 year old LOVES the daily podcast and radio station, as well as audio books. I imagine all of the free content would probably be popular until about age 9.
The cards are for babies up to about age 10 or 11. There are cards to learn baby’s first 100 words, and there are Shakespearean plays that are modified for kids. They have Ramona stories, nursery rhymes, Winnie the Pooh stories, and more.
Our three year old’s favorite is a Make Your Own card, which we filled up with audio of family members reading his favorite picture books, and silly songs I’ve made up for him. We even included audio of his baby sister laughing.
Basically, no matter how young or old your child is (up until late elementary school), you could find stories and music that would be exciting for them.
How do you use a Yoto player?
The Yoto rests on a little magnetic charging dock, but if the battery is full, you can move it all around the house while kids play, tidy up, take baths, etc.
There is a power button on the side, which we almost never use. There is a left orange knob that adjusts the volume. The button to the right will allow a child to fast-forward if a card is in the slot, or if not, switch between the podcast and radio.
The cards are heavy duty, and can be put into the slot in any direction.
How do you store Yoto cards?
We received the little binder with plastic sleeves for card storage. It’s shown below. The kids have done a great job keeping their cards in the sleeves because they love all the stories and music so much! We haven’t lost a card YET with this system. But there are lots of other ways that people take care of their cards if that method doesn’t suit you.
What are the best Yoto cards?
Hands down, the best Yoto card is the “make your own” card, if you don’t mind doing a little work. Especially for kiddos with separation anxiety at night, this can be a fabulous tool. It’s also wonderful because you decide what to put on there – making it a great choice for any age. You just customize it to your child’s interests!
Edit: This is no longer my best list of Yoto cards – you can check out my comprehensive post about my favorite Yoto cards for each age group here.
The Best Yoto Cards for Babies and Toddlers
Babies love Yoto, too! Here are my favorite choices for babies.
The Best Yoto Cards for Preschoolers
Preschoolers sometimes take a little longer to fall asleep, and begin leaving their beds. For this age group, I’ve chosen some slightly longer tracks to keep them in their beds longer. All are very calming.
- My First Bedtime Storybook (Disney Classics)
- Winnie the Pooh (over 3 hours of audio)
- I’m Ready for Big School – perfect for kids who are excited or nervous about starting school
The Best Yoto Cards for Kids 5-8
These are all wonderful collections for bigger kids. Most of these cards have hours of entertainment, because they’re chapter books or based on movies.
The Best Yoto Cards for Kids 9-12
These cards should all be great for kids with a slightly older sense of humor!
How do you record on a Yoto?
An adult will need to download the Yoto app in order to complete set up. The app also allows you to create your own cards! This is especially wonderful for little kids who don’t like to be separated at bedtime from their parents.
Included in the app is a library of all your cards.
On the drop down menu, there’s a tab called, “Make Your Own.”
Then, press the recording button, and begin singing, reading, or telling a story for the child. Collect lots of different audio from different loved ones.
Click “Make Playlist from these Recordings.”
Order your playlist by clicking arrows. Then, click the three vertical buttons to the right of the playlist to bring up a menu that includes “Link to a Card.” Then follow the directions shown here. When your Yoto player shows a green check mark on the front, you’ll know you’ve done it correctly!
Does the Yoto require Wifi?
It uses Wifi for initial set-up, to access the daily radio and podcast, and also to download a card the first time you use it. You don’t always have to be on Wifi to play cards, though.
Is the Yoto player any good? Why is the Yoto player worth the money?
It’s my opinion that the Yoto player is one of the best toys and educational tools on the market for little kids, and that’s why I wrote this Yoto player review. I’m not sponsored by them. It’s a bit expensive, but it’s worth every penny.
One thing to consider is that individual cards aren’t very expensive. Every birthday, Easter basket, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas can be improved upon with a new card for less than $10. Even though the up-front cost is pricey, it gives you super fun gift giving options for years. You can purchase on Amazon, or there are even more options in the Yoto store.
I also really love the Yoto Club. For just $10 per month or $99 per year, you’ll get store credit for two new cards with free shipping and 5% off the regular price.
Each month on the anniversary of your Yoto Club purchase date, you’ll get two credits added to your account. You can choose from around 100 cards immediately, or you can let them accrue for up to 12 months. The cards that are part of Yoto Club change monthly, so your options are always changing.
I think this is great, because with the old Yoto Club, you’d have to remember each month to go in and select your cards within a window of time. This way is a fantastic value and so simple!
The Yoto player is durable.
This is a heavy duty plastic box, and the cards can withstand tons of abuse. They are STURDY and can tolerate bending. The only way I can foresee messing this toy up is by accidentally dropping it in the bathtub. We have had to set a strict rule that the box stays on the bathroom counter during bath time. I have seen a few families have to dig coins out of the card slot, but this seems to be easy to resolve with a paper clip. It’s a pretty sophisticated toy and yet perfect for little hands.
Our toddler’s Yoto mini has an adventure jacket on it, and we do feel like that offers an additional layer of protection that might benefit young kids.
The Yoto player is the king of kid-friendly audio content.
A two year old can operate this Yoto box and the cards that go with it. With only two knobs and one slot for cards, they can’t mess it up! Our three year old will sometimes bring his Yoto box into bed and change out cards while he waits to get sleepy.
The Yoto is the best of the screen-free audio players.
This is a great way to give your kids control over their audio entertainment without exposing them to yet another screen. They feel in charge, and they LOVE it. I don’t have to worry about their developing brains or be concerned about their safety. I do belong to several Yoto Facebook groups, and most of the moms have experience with Tonie boxes, too. The Yoto is preferred.
Yoto grows with their tastes!
Not many toys work well for ages 2-10, but this one really does. The radio show has all three of my kids dancing together – ages 2 to 8 years old. As your kiddo grows, you simply keep expanding their card library with age appropriate cards. My littlest one likes the First 100 Words card and all the nursery rhymes, while my oldest is listening to James and the Giant Peach and Shakespeare for Kids!
The Yoto box is great to pass down from one kid to the next.
This is one of those toys where the longer you keep it, and the more your collection of cards grows, the more valuable it becomes. I am so excited to keep using this toy until my youngest is in late elementary school. When you consider hours of usage over time, this toy/tool is a no-brainer in spite of the price.
The free Yoto daily podcast and Yoto radio require no card.
The podcast is excellent. It’s a really adorable way for kids to start their day, and my six-year-old daughter loves tuning in as she dresses in the morning. They are less than ten minutes long. There are also lots of other free podcasts to choose from that you can stream through your phone, using your Yoto as a bluetooth speaker.
Today’s episode opened up with the British podcast host telling kids about a show he used to love called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (hah), and then he told the kids all about endangered turtles. It even included a little quiz about turtles at the end!
Every podcast also ends with the podcast host doing birthday shout outs to kids around the world. I’ve already written to Yoto and requested a birthday shout out to my daughter, because she loves hearing those every day!
All three of my kids enjoy listening to the daily podcast while they have their morning bowl of cereal.
The Yoto Mini has saved our road trips and daily quiet time.
The Yoto mini is perfect for long car journeys and airplane rides because it’s so small and portable. Once you use a card once while hooked up to Wifi, you never need a Wifi connection again to play the card. Having the kids wearing headphones and listening to music and stories has saved our sanity on multiple trip.
It also really helped our little two endure our oldest child’s baseball games.
It also helps the kids tolerate their daily quiet times in their rooms without ever using a screen. Since my youngest two kids aren’t reading yet, they still have some screen-free entertainment in their rooms during nap time.
The Yoto app has great parental controls.
You can put your child’s Yoto into night mode, which allows you to control how loud their player is during bedtime hours.
My little boy also knows that he can’t wake up for the day until his night clock pixel display changes from a moon to a sunshine. He has put himself back to sleep multiple times and I’m grateful that Yoto can help make mornings a bit more peaceful.
Yoto Player Review – Concluding Thoughts
You can’t go wrong with any of the Yoto products. Whether you choose a Yoto original player like this one, or opt for the Yoto Mini, I think you’ll be absolutely thrilled with your purchase.